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"Mime" Joker - 1989 Batman DX14
Hot Toys

Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys


During the 1960's, comic books got a tad silly. Much of this was in response to the extreme pressure brought against publishers over the previous decade, due to the perceived sex and violence that the industry was supposedly selling.

The horror and true crime books were hit the hardest, but the big names didn't get by unscathed. Batman, once a gritty detective, was transformed into a bit of a goof. No where was this more obvious than in the 1966 Batman television series.

It didn't take long for the effects of the Wertham era to wear off, at least for the comics, and for Batman to get back to being a serious character. But in film and television, it was a much tougher sell. People who didn't read comics (which was becoming a bigger and bigger part of the world) only saw him one way - the way Adam West portrayed him.

It's important to remember that history, because it explains the greater importance of the 1989 Burton Batman movie. After two decades, it was a chance for Batman to be treated seriously again. If Burton blew it, God only knows how long it would be before the chance came around again.

Thankfully, he did not, although by the third film other directors and screen writers tried their very best to undo any positive image created by the first two films.

One of the best aspects of the original movie is the portrayal of the Joker by Jack Nicholson. Hot Toys has already produced a DX figure in honor of the great character, but they've gone back to the well with a second DX based on his 'mime' look. This is how he appeared as "Uncle Bingo" on the steps of City Hall, with his goons dressed up as mimes.

This guy is just now shipping, and will run you around $230, depending on the retailer. As always, I have some suggestions at the end of the review in the Where to Buy section. Remember - the sponsors allow this site to stay up and running, so please show them your patronage whenever possible. Thanks!
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys
Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys
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Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys
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Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys
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Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys
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Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys
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Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys
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Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys
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Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys
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Packaging - ****
I love this package - it's one of the very best examples I've seen of classy simplicity.

The outer box and flip lid have a design based on the black and white tuxedo worn by the Joker. With polka dots and plaids, they've captured the concept without going crazy with colors or photos. They finish it off with the big flower from his lapel, a consistent theme inside as well.

Buyers of the previous DX Batman figures know that there is a usually a large card inside the front flap that fits in with the general character concept. This time it's a black card with the white flower embossed in the center, again classy yet simple.

The front flap is held in place with magnets, and the interior plastic and foam trays keep the figure and accessories very safe. It goes without saying at this point that it's all very collector friendly. with no need to damage a thing.

Sculpting - ***1/2
I have my suspicions about this sculpt. I'm betting it's not new, and there are clearly areas that make it appear as though this is the same sculpt as the previous DX Nicholson Joker, but with the mouth adjusted to a closed position.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. As the saying goes, don't fix what ain't broke, and clearly the original sculpt was not broke. Using it as the basis for this figure was a smart call.

They've done a nice job adjusting the wide grin to something a bit more calm, yet somehow even more deadly. There's all the expected amazing skin texture, including the wrinkles.  The level of realism really is something to behold.

This figure has the PERS of course, since it is a DX. The eyes aren't set too far into the head, and the glassy material they've used looks amazing.

However, this sculpt loses a half star over the previous version for the line where the PERS access panel is, at the back of the hair. I mentioned in my review of the earlier Nicholson Joker that this line was so well hidden that if you didn't know it was there, you'd never notice it. That's definitely not the case this time around, at least on mine. I included a photo so you can see what I mean. No matter how I positioned the stick inside the head (in case it was getting in the way) or adjusted the back panel, I couldn't get it to fit up snug under or against the front of the head.

I'm hoping that this is a one off issue, particularly since it was so well done on the previous figure. It's quite possible that in the manufacture of the heads, a slight deviation caused more trouble than the norm. Hopefully that's the case, and mine is one of the few with the issue.

Thankfully the hat makes it even less of an issue, and when he's posed on the shelf, you won't be able to see the slight gap.

This is a sixth scale figure of course, which means he comes in at right about 12" tall. The hand sculpts look great and work well with the accessories, and the work on the shoes and spats is particularly notable this time around.

Paint - ****
This is Hot Toys, it's a DX, and it's a heavily painted portrait. It goes without saying that they'd pull out all the stops.

Once again, it looks amazingly lifelike and real. You can argue that the white face paint is easier to do than a nuanced natural skin tone, but they've created just the right variations and shading. Even the hair looks perfect, right down to the subtle hair line transition.

Articulation - ***1/2
You know how much I love the TrueType. There simply isn't a better body on the market right now. There's a couple that I'd be willing to say are about as good, but none that are better. This body can take natural, flowing poses, and do it easily. The joints are tight enough to maintain the stance, but not so tight as to risk damage or breakage.

The ball jointed neck works great, but there's only the joint at the torso, not below the jawline. That tends to vary from figure to figure, but here, where the paint has to cover the head and neck, it makes perfect sense to make it all one piece.

This costume does restrict the underlying articulation a bit though. Underneath the costume is fat suit, a body suit with padding that porks him up a bit in key areas. That means the torso is restricted a tad, as are the upper legs.

I mentioned the PERS system earlier, and it works just fine. The little joystick is hidden inside the skull, and the eyes move together, side to side and up and down. You'll be able to adjust them to a look that suits just about any pose.

Accessories - ***1/2
Considering the DX designation, he's a little light in this category.

He has a total of six hands - the two posed hands he comes wearing, a pair of widely splayed hands, and two additional rights. One is pointing, while the other is perfect for holding the quill pen.

He has three of the pens, although I'm not sure why. I only remember one in the movie, the one he uses as a deadly weapon. But I'm not complaining about getting a couple extras.

I'm going to be including the top hat with the Outfit, but I'll throw the big flower in here. It has a metal clip on the back that slips inside the front lapel pocket. It tends to stick out a bit from the jacket - it's quite large - but from the front it looks great.

The big accessory here is the City Hall steps diorama. There's the large plastic stairs, which has the Joker nameplate on the bottom step. There's a clear plastic rod and spring clamp that fits inside this base if you'd like to use it, although it's not necessary to keep him standing.

The cardboard background comes in three pieces. The bottom piece fits around the base, while the top piece forms the three walls. These two pieces fit together with the use of a third, solid black piece. This third piece attaches the top and bottom together with, get this, magnets! I was a little skeptical at first, but it actually works really well. As a backdrop to the figure this set up works extremely well.

As always, there's some extra pegs for the wrists, but there is not a standard, basic display stand this time around.

Outfit - ****
The outfit consists of a number of well tailored, high quality pieces.

Underneath it all is the body suit I mentioned earlier. You'll see this at the wrists, where the stretchy material will cover the wrist joints. It allows them to add padding at various places, like the belly and upper legs.

There's also a white shirt, polka dot vest, polka dot tie, plaid pants and suspenders, and black top coat and tails. The tailoring is outstanding, and the overall fit is just about perfect.

They do include some cardboard packing supports in the lower legs to keep the pants poofed out in transit. However, these (combined with the thigh padding) tend to cause some folding and wrinkling at the knees. I didn't do anything for the photos - I want you to see him as he looks out of the box - but I'm going to steam the knees of the pants a bit when I put him on display to get a bit better flow through the pant leg.

The shoe sculpt is amazing as well, including the spats. Small details, like the buttons, are perfectly in scale and properly placed.

It's all topped off with a great looking top hat that is properly in scale and fits the head nicely without any tricks. There is a front and back (pay attention to the arrow), but it slips on easily and I didn't worry about paint rubs.

There are snaps holding things closed, but I'd avoid stripping him down if you can. We all know that the small snaps can be problematic once they are open, and since there's no reason to swap this costume, you're better off leaving it be.

Fun Factor - ***
This isn't a toy, but it remembers what it means to be a toy. All the best features of a great toy are here, just amplified. For the adult collector that loves all things Batman, it doesn't get much better than this.

Value - **
$230 is a tad above average for a DX these days.  The DX10 (T-800) was $200, but lacked the diorama and had some re-use, and the DX09 (1989 Batman) was $200 as well. The more recent DX11 (Joker 2.0) was closer to $275, but that's a bit unfair because you had a very large diorama and an extra portrait. 

Still, $30 over the usual price tag for a DX is another indication that Hot Toys is pushing everything upward. This Joker does not have as many extras as past DX figures, with a slightly higher price tag, resulting in a slightly lower value score from me.

Things to Watch Out For -
When swapping hands, try your best to only remove the hand, not the wrist peg. If you pull the peg out of the sleeve of the undershirt, it's tough to get it back in place. Not impossible though - pull the shirt down on the arm to stretch out the hole over the wrist, then reinsert the post sans hand. You can then pull the sleeve back over the rest of the ball joint. While it's doable, better to not have to if you can manage it.

Overall - ***1/2
If you already have last year's Nicholson Joker, this figure is far from a must have. While he's an iconic character, I'm not sure that most people think of this costume right away. That means for many collectors, it's $230 they can put towards a more critical character for their collection.

But if you're a huge fan of the Batman license, especially the Burton film, then this guy makes an excellent addition to the previous Joker and Batman. Better yet, put the other Joker in your 1989 display, and add this guy to a 'joker through the ages' set up that includes the Ledger version and Sideshow's comic book version. How amazing would it be if Hot Toys gave us a 1966 Romero Joker as well?

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Sideshow has him in stock right now for $230.

- Alter Ego Comics has this figure for $230.

- Big Bad Toy Store comes in at $230.

- Things From Another World is also at $230.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Also from the 1989 film and from Hot Toys is this version of the Nicholson Joker, as well as the Keaton Batman. If you're a fan of the Joker, you should also check out their DX11, the most recent of their Ledger Jokers.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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Joker Mime 1989 Batman action figure by Hot Toys


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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